Will Machin’s early career has been characterised by an extraordinary determination to achieve success for himself and his employer, the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL). Now, Will has fulfilled his early potential with a prestigious award from the Royal Academy of Engineering – he received the Sir George Macfarlane certificate from Academy President Lord Browne of Madingley earlier this month.

Within two years of graduating, Will was recognised as the ideal candidate to lead a major development programme simulating the behaviour of medium active waste at full scale. Will galvanised all around him to turn a failing project into an unqualified success, providing vital data which supports the continuing safe operation of the Sellafield site.

The safety of the UK’s reactor fleet is underpinned by the NNL’s extensive testing programme on the graphite inside the reactor cores. Will’s success with the above project led to him being asked to project manage the national programme as technical capabilities were being rationalised from Berkeley to Sellafield. Quietly confident, Will embraced this challenge and, despite his relative inexperience, maintained quality and delivery through an intense period of experimental activity.

Within four years of graduation Will became a natural selection as Technical Lead for projects as diverse as design concepts for next generation UK nuclear plants and the detailed design and commissioning of the NNL’s flagship Central Laboratory. By 2008 Will’s appointment as a Principal Engineer had become a formality, and he joined a select group reporting directly to the laboratory’s Chief Engineer. As a Principal, Will exercises the full legal and professional accountabilities of a chartered engineer on a daily basis, often on multi-million pound programmes.

Will has scored several significant firsts. In 2006, he was the youngest ever delegate on the NNL’s Management Development Programme, he became the lab’s youngest chartered engineer in 2007 and in 2010 his outstanding qualities were rewarded by his appointment as the NNL’s youngest Technical Manager, a role in which he leads the professional engineering staff at the NNL’s offices in Warrington.

Will mentors NNL’s younger engineers and he has also been appointed Visiting Senior Fellow at the University of Liverpool where he supervises design projects on the Masters Programme.

“Will’s achievements at the NNL are unique and unprecedented,” says NNL’s Chief Engineer Richard Taylor. “His natural authority means he enjoys universal respect and he has made a major contribution to the NNL through his achievements and his character. He has become an inspirational figure for the laboratory’s junior staff and is a worthy and deserving recipient of the George Macfarlane Award.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Award is in memory of Sir George Macfarlane (1916 - 2007), one of the founding fellows of the Academy, and recognises the potential of younger UK engineers, who have demonstrated excellence in the early stage of their career (less than eight years since graduation from a first degree in engineering). This excellence is marked by a quality of leadership and/or technical and scientific attainment that is clearly seen to be outstanding by their employers and organisation. The Award is to recognise this and enables them to attend an educational event at The Royal Academy of Engineering where they may have opportunity to meet other leading engineers and gain professional development skills.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email:  Jane Sutton